In 2011, SREB began forming a regional partnership of states and experts to develop two readiness courses, one in mathematics and one in disciplinary literacy. The courses were designed to help under-prepared students reach their state’s college- and career-readiness benchmarks before high school graduation.
The quality resources found within the SREB Readiness Courses have now been aligned to Texas standards. The Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) in 2014 led a project to engage teams of Texas teachers and content specialists to align all units and corresponding lessons to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and Texas College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS). Texas districts can now easily use and adapt the courses to meet the needs of their students.
The Readiness Courses are designed to assist students who are assessed as “unready” for postsecondary education—meaning they do not reach the state’s college- and career-readiness benchmarks on the ACT, SAT, or other assessment—to become prepared and reach those benchmarks.
These courses are best suited for the middle range of students, not those who can succeed in Advanced Placement courses or who are severely behind. The courses are built with rigor, innovative instructional strategies, and a concentration on contextual learning that departs from procedural memorization and focuses on engaging the students in a real-world context. They provide literacy strategies that allow students to read and comprehend all manner of texts and genres in every core discipline and numeracy skills not yet fully understood in the typical high school math class. In short, these courses target students with weaknesses and college-ready skill gaps and re-educate them in new ways to ensure they are prepared for postsecondary-level pursuits.
SREB began working with five states setting up teams of educators to begin formulating the curricula outlines and draft both the math and disciplinary literacy courses. These teams consisted of K-12 educators; faculty from two- and four- year colleges and universities and technical colleges; state agency personnel from secondary and postsecondary state agencies; and national experts. SREB engaged regional and national experts in math and disciplinary literacy curriculum to lead these teams. The content was guided by standards, instructional strategies and tools suggested by experts, but it was written by the states.
In fall 2012, SREB partnered with eight additional states to review the draft units and provide feedback for revisions. Contributors from these states, from educators to state representatives, provided detailed reviews of all units in each course. An additional review of the drafts was also provided in spring 2013. SREB began field-testing individual course units in 20 classrooms in four of the original states. Feedback from reviewers and testers led to a six-month review process ending in early fall 2013. During this time, three more states joined the project with interest in piloting the courses after completion.
The outcomes of this extensive development and revision process are the two SREB Readiness Courses—Literacy Ready and Math Ready. The courses are available free of charge to any district, school or teacher who wishes to download them from the TASA website, www.tasanet.org
. The full courses and additional resources, including informational publications, policy briefs, state information and slide presentations, are also available on the SREB website at SREB.org/Ready
Math Ready: Ready for college-level math
The Math Ready course focuses on the key readiness standards needed for students to be ready to undertake postsecondary academic or career preparation in non-STEM fields or majors. The course addresses standards throughout high school and even earlier, including Algebra I, statistics and geometry, and the Algebra II standards agreed to as essential college- and career-readiness standards for most students. The full range of content standards found in Algebra II is not addressed because some are not seen as essential college- and career-readiness standards for non-STEM math courses. The math course consists of seven mandatory modules: algebraic expressions, equations, measurement and proportional reasoning, linear functions, linear systems of equations, quadratic functions, exponential functions and summarizing and interpreting statistical data (optional). While this course covers the basics in math practices and reviews the procedural steps needed to be successful in math, it is designed to be taught in a new, engaging way based heavily on conceptual teaching and learning. Each unit includes a “hook” at the beginning to engage students and pre-assess prior math experiences and understandings. The hook is followed by several days of tasks that delve deeply into rigorous mathematical principles. Each unit also includes a formative assessment lesson at just over the two-thirds mark, allowing the teacher to adapt instruction and learning during the remaining one-third of the unit.